Q. How is writing for a show like the office different than writing for a cartoon like the Simpsons? What things did you learn in your previous role that helped you pen this episode? | AJ
Danny: Both shows rely a lot on a writers’ room, but there are some huge differences.
The Simpsons is usually written about a year or two in advance, due to the time it takes to animate. It allows for much more re-writing, whereas The Office tends to rely more on high quality writers’ drafts that ideally don’t need much re-writing.
Also, The Simpsons is kind of simpler production-wise — you don’t have wardrobe, or makeup, or props. Just animators. So if you want Homer to ride in on an elephant, he can very easily do so. He’d probably be so fat that the elephant’s knees buckle — I can picture it now!!!
As for what I learned that helps me now … I think I became a much stronger joke writer at The Simpsons. They just value the individual joke-unit so highly. I also learned to really use my imagination to the max — you have so few limits in animation, so you can really loosen up and take some wild swings.
Initially that felt like a hindrance here at The Office, which is very observational and real, but I’ve learned how to apply it. I guess it especially came in handy for an episode like Murder, which is inherently kind of broad and goofy.
Q. Just how much blooper footage are we going to see from this episode alone? | Monica
Danny: No clue how much will be released, but there’s a lot. The actors really seemed to enjoy doing the accents and hearing everyone else’s.
One moment that I remember a lot of the actors laughing at was when Erin is agreeing to the threesome, and Andy does that hilariously pained smile behind her. I think pretty much anyone who wasn’t on camera was just craning their neck, trying to see Ed’s face.
Q. Is it becoming a running gag that Ryan always has a new and weird look going each week? Whose idea was it for Ryan’s latest outfit? | Roscoet
Danny: I’d imagine the outfit was a collaboration between the wardrobe people and BJ.
But as you may know, this season Ryan has become more pretentious (his photography being the main example). He just seems like the kind of guy who would experiment with new looks and change his persona based on which way the wind is blowing.
Q. How’d you decide on the Shawn Mullins song? | DJ Jazzy Flax
Danny: I figured Michael would be unable to console himself in this time of stress, so he’d try external tactics, like listening to reassuring music. And I thought Michael would probably have loved top 40 pop from the 90s. And I figured the song would have to be devoid of subtext. That’s why Lullaby felt like a fit.
There was a line that got cut, where Michael says to Jim, “Part of me wants to believe Shawn Mullins, and part of me thinks that’s idiotic. Do you know if he’s considered wise?” I wish that had made it.